"Once people get their feet wet, they enjoy swimming in the international marketplace."

That quote might sound like it comes from a tourist promoter, but actually it is attributed to Lew W. Cramer, Washington, D.C., deputy assistant secretary of commerce, who has been assigned by President Reagan as executive director of Export Now, a U.S. Department of Commerce program that has many purposes.Cramer, a former Utahn who earned law and undergraduate degrees at Brigham Young University, said the program is designed to make small and medium-sized American businesses more aware of the importance of exporting, encourage these companies to export, make more visible the variety of assistance available to aid in exporting and help improve the American trade deficit.

In Salt Lake City to address the International Affairs Committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors over the weekend, Cramer said the American trade deficit reached $171 billion last year and he is attempting to reduce that figure by 15 percent in 1988.

Because the U.S. dollar is down in foreign markets, Cramer said, "we can outprice anybody in the world. American items that sold in foreign countries for $1,000 three years ago now are selling for $500, an indication of the importance the Export Now program has in trying to reduce the trade deficit," he said.

He said it is more advantageous for a company in Dallas to export to West Germany than it is to send products from Dallas to Denver. Cramer said mayors must take a leadership role in the areas where small businesses are located and provide some marketing help for exporting.

Less than 1 percent of U.S. manufacturing companies account for nearly 80 percent of all American exports, Cramer said, an indication that many more companies could get serious about exporting their products.

"Our primary targets for Export Now are the small and medium-sized U.S. businesses who have not yet entered the international arena and are not aware of the vast potential available, or how to take advantage of it," Cramer said.

There is some "red tape" involved with exporting, but the government is doing many things to eliminate anything that might resemble a trade barrier, Cramer said.